Orange County Public Administrator John Williams is heading to Superior Court Monday to argue that county supervisors can’t force him to leave.
Lawyers for the county, meanwhile, will argue that Williams effectively resigned last March, when amid a political firestorm over allegations that he mismanaged his office he wrote to supervisors that he intended to retire this month. Williams’ term of office as public administrator runs until 2014.
County officials have locked Williams out of his office and scrubbed his presence from the county public administrator’s office and website.
Under the terms of a political deal, Williams has been paid his full salary over the past year without performing his day-to-day tasks. Supervisors appointed an executive to take over the operation.
The deal was supposed to end Jan. 23 with Williams’ retirement.
Williams will ask a judge to issue a temporary restraining order preventing county officials from evicting him from office.
Williams is the third countywide elected official to oppose county supervisors over the terms of their offices and resignation issues. Previous confrontations involved former Sheriff Mike Carona and Treasurer/Tax Collector Chriss Street. Williams is trying to become the first to survive.
Williams’ drama also has been directly tied to the political fates of several other elected officials.
District Attorney Tony Rackauckas’ fiancee, Peggi Buff, was William’s second in command. Rackauckas abruptly fired his heir apparent, former Assemblyman and Assistant DA Todd Spitzer, after Spitzer started making phone calls about how Williams’ handled business. Williams was already the focus of two scathing grand jury reports.
Since his firing, Spitzer, now a candidate for 3rd District county supervisor, has concentrated his criticism on Rackauckas and his chief of staff, Susan Schroeder, accusing them of running a corrupt agency.
Schroeder has fired back at Spitzer, saying he was fired for a variety of reasons and privately tried to get his job back, an allegation Spitzer denies.
Supervisor Bill Campbell struck the political deal with Williams ending the drama that enveloped his agency after the Spitzer firing. Both Campbell and board Chairman John Moorlach were early supporters of Williams’ bid to combine the offices of public guardian and public administator.
Both Campbell and Moorlach are campaigning for a June ballot initiative that would return Williams’ office to an appointed, rather than elected, position.
— NORBERTO SANTANA JR.